A ground-breaking orchestra is having a positive impact on children’s personal and social development, according to an independent evaluation published today (Wednesday) by the Scottish Government.

The charity Sistema Scotland set up the Big Noise orchestra in Stirling’s Raploch estate in Summer 2008. Modelled on Venezuela’s “El Sistema” movement, it aims to transform lives with music.

Sistema Scotland Chairman Richard Holloway said: “We don’t believe in quick fixes. We can’t transform the lives of a new generation in just a couple of years. But this report tells us we are on course.

“This is working and we want to start doing it in more places. We want to hear from communities and local authorities that think an orchestra can help improve the future of their children.

“We know budgets are hard pressed now, but we are committed to finding innovative funding solutions to make Big Noise happen in more places. The report notes that in the long term the impact of the orchestra is likely to: “provide significant savings to the public purse.“

“As for Raploch, well you ain’t seen nothing yet! These children are going to astonish the world.“

The report states: “there is evidence that Big Noise is having a positive impact on children’s personal and social development, including increased confidence, self esteem, a sense of achievement and pride, improved social skills, team working skills and expanded social networks. For those children with special educational needs, behaviour issues or unsettled home lives, particular benefits include a sense of belonging, improved ability to concentrate and focus on a task, a sense of responsibility and positive behaviour change.”

While it is too early to measure longterm positive effects of membership of the orchestra, the report says it is “well placed to achieve a range of outcomes, including greater engagement in learning, higher academic performance, reduction in negative and health harming behaviours, benefits to families, employers and communities, and better employability skills.”

A survey of parents and carers found that as a result of Big Noise 100% thought their children were more confident, 93% thought their children were happier, 79% thought they were more willing to concentrate, and 43% thought they behaved better.

Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop said: "This evaluation shows that Sistema Scotland's Big Noise Orchestra is a great cultural experience for the children involved which is having a positive impact on their lives. They are learning through creativity and aspiring to be part of something bigger. This research builds on existing evidence about the many ways in which creativity and culture are delivering real benefits for Scottish communities and our economy."



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